27 pages 54 minutes read

James Joyce

An Encounter

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1913

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Story Analysis

Analysis: “An Encounter”

The stories in Dubliners more or less capture the human experience. Those found at the beginning of the collection deal with younger characters. James Joyce was not a writer who would ever confuse youth for childishness, however. He takes the responsibility of recording the thoughts and adventures of his young narrator in “An Encounter” very seriously, employing a unique take on loss of innocence and coming of age. Chief among the narrator’s desires is Wanderlust, a yearning to travel and explore the world. The games that he plays with his classmates are filled with far-flung characters and settings: “The adventures related in the literature of the Wild West were remote from my nature but, at least, they opened doors of escape” (10). Ultimately, however, the characters are sheltered within a smaller world of their own and exploration leads to more conflict than they perhaps expected.

“An Encounter” introduces the reader of Dubliners to Joyce’s Dublin in an intimate way. The story begins by focusing on a group of boys and their camaraderie and youthfulness, bonded beyond the bounds of society: “differences of culture and constitution were waived” (10). The name of the narrator is never revealed in “An Encounter,” but the reader gets a clear picture of his standing with his classmates, his hopes and interests, and how he manages himself in a stressful situation.